msb ~082 Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)

Pale Blue Dot syndrome   

Pale Blue Dot: Voyager image of Earth
Pale Blue Dot: Voyager image of Earth

(colloquial, ‘Blue’; archaic, ‘Sagan’s Pixel’): a malaise of Gaian-class consciousness, in legend derived from the ProtoGaian Terra before its first outwave. Though Terra’s existence is doubted, the term’s origin is implied in that fabled aquatmosphere’s supposed chromatocharacteristics.

According to the legend, ‘Blue’ malaise arose among Terra’s self-extincted Homosagans, a biosubstrate-component that developed protoawareness, dominance delusions and abortive fledgeflight. Their very first projectiletechnoproxysensorium view back from their solsystem’s margins (attributed to preconscious emissary Voya) fed mistaken notions of Terra’s solitary life-bearing status. Fabulists speculate that Homosagans sensed this one-dimensional image – their ‘pale blue dot’ – contained all their species had ever known, done or been; achievements, failings, experiences and emotional states which they soon after recited into the Blue List Library (now lost, except to legend). Continue reading “msb ~082 Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)”

msb ~079 The ghost of a flea?

The ghost of a flea?  

William Blake's 'The ghost of a flea'
William Blake’s ‘The ghost of a flea’

Of all the images William Blake produced, the strangest and most appealing to me is The Ghost of a Flea (1820). It’s on display at Tate Britain: a small, dark, oddly menacing object, tempera and gold on wood. As this short Atlas Obscura article recalls, Blake claimed the ‘ghost’ itself came to him in one of his visions and “posed for him as he sketched it. He was able to ‘communicate’ with the monstrous being, who revealed that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of men who were ‘by nature bloodthirsty to excess.'” Continue reading “msb ~079 The ghost of a flea?”

msb ~077 Landscapes written in the skin

Landscapes written in the skin  

Hereford Cathedral's Mappa Mundi
Hereford Cathedral’s ‘Mappa Mundi’ – world dream-map

Maps hold me. The collection I marked during my ‘sabbatical’ exploration of personal unknown England. My afternoon with the Hereford Mappa Mundi’s medieval worldview squashed onto a sheet of vellum. First Nations hunters’ dream-maps, recalled in Anticipatory history: “a piece of moosehide as large as a tabletop … ‘Up here is heaven; this is the trail that must be followed; here is a wrong direction; this is where it would be worst of all to go; and over here are all the animals. They explained that all of this had been discovered in dreams.'” My own dreams of floating above unreal landscape-map hybrids, still real years later. Continue reading “msb ~077 Landscapes written in the skin”

msb ~076 Climate data: climate art

Climate data: climate art  

Climate Symphony Lab 2017: noisy data
Climate Symphony Lab; noisy data

A conversation today reminded me of a workshop I joined last year, where we created audio art from climate data. Climate Symphony Lab tapped into public interest in, but confusion with, science to make new ways to internalise what environmental change ‘looks’ (or sounds) like. Climate data: climate art. Actually being in on debates on what to include and exclude, which available technologies to use (instruments, laptops, voices, feet, breath, tearing paper?) was unusual, enlivening and unsettling. It brought a direct, participative responsibility to what can be seen as quite distant, individualist artistic practices — and even more distant, communal practices of science. Continue reading “msb ~076 Climate data: climate art”

msb ~075 A feel for the place

A feel for the place 

Geoff Dyer: 'a feel for the place'
Geoff Dyer: ‘a feel for the place’

Am I wrong to want from a programme called ‘Travel: is it worth it?’ some focus on the climate implications of a lifetime travelling to write? I agree that, while we travel with our preconceptions, travelling opens them to disruption; travellers’ accounts shake and reshape my worldview. But what of my prejudice: mass travel wastes the world faster than it makes it? Who can deny there’s a mass of travel writers? Continue reading “msb ~075 A feel for the place”

msb ~073 Picture this

Picture this  

Picture Icelandic elements: a photograph by Gareth Goldthorpe
Iceland elements

As recent passages here — TERRA and The Library of Ice — hint, my reading’s had an Arctic preoccupation recently. I’ve never been north of 60o, so my polar regions are imaginary zones. Although reading is intensely visual, photographs still jolt my every-day, word-fed way of ‘seeing’ the distant world. I’ve dabbled in photography, but my brother does the real thing, and I’m envious of his skills and travels. I’d forgotten his recent Iceland trip, my anticipation of his new images and, checking his website, there they were: freshly discovered places that others’ words had been walking me toward. Continue reading “msb ~073 Picture this”

msb ~062 Connecting with change

Connecting with change 

Looking to pasts and futures…

I’ve mentioned the book Anticipatory history and how I keep returning to it. The term also describes a loose collection of approaches that extend beyond the book’s collection of texts, each a means to open up conversations about change in places we feel deep attachment to, now facing uncertain futures.

To help us bring in new perspectives when we try to make sense of change, ‘anticipatory history’ approaches might include:

  • Looking imaginatively at past changes and at the contingencies which underlined (and could have undermined) the events and actions that shaped what it is now. Examples are reverse chronologies, timelines, oral histories and artistic representations.
  • Taking a fresh look at the language we use to talk about the natural and cultural processes at play. The book itself provides one way into this, as a form of glossary arising from a dialogue between specialisms.
  • Imagining and naming unfamiliar or new ways of living with change that might be adopted in this place.

Continue reading “msb ~062 Connecting with change”

msb ~061 Anthropocene foreshadowings

Anthropocene foreshadowings  

Edge of Darkness: ‘stop the Anthropocene or the teddy bear gets it..’

I may need to spend time tracking down TV classics from the 1960s to 80s. Adam Scovell’s excellent survey of British TV fictional alarm calls reminds us how Anthropocene warnings have been with us for almost as long as the Great Acceleration itself. “It’s not that these programmes were ahead of their time: it is more frustratingly, that we have moved on so little in how we deal with the monumentality of ecological issues and their increasing scarring of the strata of our planet; the danger has been growing but with far more fervour than our willingness to address it.” Continue reading “msb ~061 Anthropocene foreshadowings”

msb ~059 Only connect

Only connect  

Path: space to connect

Louisa Thomsen Brits’ Path narrates place and personhood through poems that make ‘a short story about reciprocity’. This small book treads lightly through wide scapes of spirit and land; beginning with a quote from Robert Macfarlane: “paths connect. This is their first duty and their chief reason for being.” Perhaps all beings (human/non-human) are also paths: expressions of particularity and process; routes and roots to our essential connections.

I am footfall and track,
trail and trace,
thread of passage and possibility.

Trodden-through with a region-specific ‘word hoard’, Path is both intensely local to those paths Brit walks and universally translatable to our own natural geographies, histories, biographies.

I offer to make sense of the world,
to unravel tangle to intelligible thread,
I am your next natural step,
a silent, sinuous course stretching ahead of you... Continue reading “msb ~059 Only connect”